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Posted at 9:30 PM ET, 01/ 3/2011

Loud noise, not weather likely behind bird kill

By Jason Samenow

9:30 p.m. update: The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) is reporting (h/t commenter JerryFloyd) the birds likely died as a result of booming noise, perhaps fireworks, in central Arkansas Friday. The noise may have incited a bird frenzy causing them to fly into houses and trees. The WSJ story states storms weren't in the area when the birds died. On the other hand, the radar shows storms departing the region between 9 and 10 p.m. central time. The birds reportedly started falling from the sky around 11 p.m.

Posted earlier (7:30 p.m.): As the investigation continues as to the cause of the sudden death of up to 5,000 blackbirds in central Arkansas New Year's Eve, fingers are starting to point at the weather.

MSNBC reported the following:

The director of Cornell University's ornithology lab in Ithaca, N.Y., said the most likely suspect is violent weather. It's probable that thousands of birds were asleep, roosting in a single tree, when a "washing machine-type thunderstorm" sucked them up into the air, disoriented them, and even fatally soaked and chilled them.
"Bad weather can occasionally catch flocks off guard, blow them off a roost, and they get hurled up suddenly into this thundercloud," lab director John Fitzpatrick said.

AccuWeather suggested lightning as a possible cause:

"There was lightning in the area between 9:19 and 9:30 p.m. CDT," said AccuWeather.com Information Manager, Henry Margusity. "A couple of strokes had between 380,000 and 540,000 amps."
There are estimates that more than 1,000 birds had fallen before midnight. The birds were found in an area that is 1 mile long and 1/2 of a mile wide. No birds were found outside of this area.


Radar image (left) courtesy Weather Underground. Lightning image (right) courtesy NASA.

The radar image, above (left), shows thunderstorms departing the region around Beebe, Arkansas, just before the birds plummeted to the ground there. Although freely available archived lightning data is unavailable near Beebe, a NASA lightning detection network in the path of the same complex of storms (east of Beebe) in northern Alabama indicates the storms were producing a lot of electricity.

There is a precedent for lightning-related bird deaths in Arkansas. According to the Associated Press, lightning killed ducks at Hot Springs in 2001 and hail knocked birds from the sky at Stuttgart in 1973 on the day before hunting season.

MSNBC reported Arkansas' top veterinarian, Dr. George Stevens, said preliminary autopsies on 17 of the blackbirds, which ruled out poison, indicate they died of blunt trauma and midair. That suggests something likely startled the birds said MSNBC.

See also: Video - A bizarre bird mystery

By Jason Samenow  | January 3, 2011; 9:30 PM ET
Categories:  Latest, U.S. Weather  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: PM Update: Briefly milder air tomorrow
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Comments

Might have been nearby fireworks that scared the birds (it was a clear, calm evening in Beebe).
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704835504576060293132745646.html

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | January 3, 2011 9:07 PM | Report abuse

i just said the weather thing not too long ago. it is certainly plausible that the bird may not have been from Arkansas, possibly sucked up into a storm miles away (there was a string of tornadoes in Missouri) and then deposited miles away from their source in Arkansas. Birds are fairly light and would be able to be suspended in an updraft. The question is why such a strong storm in the middle of winter?

Posted by: anonymous3 | January 3, 2011 9:40 PM | Report abuse

If the loud noise of fireworks was to blame then every 4th of July millions of birds would be falling from the sky, including thousands falling onto people on the National Mall. It was not a loud noise that caused this.

Posted by: rwalker66 | January 3, 2011 10:12 PM | Report abuse

In Olney, a flock of Crows shorted power lines during a storm. The flock was so dense that the water arc across power lines. It blew out power for most of Olney. The power surge killed our microwave oven. This was about 10 years ago.

Posted by: jminadeo | January 3, 2011 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget about the 100,000 dead fish that they discovered along 20 miles of waterway in Arkansas as well: http://www.todaysthv.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=136401&catid=2

That right there rules out fireworks.

Also, I have experience with shooting fireworks at a tree full of nuisance birds before (They were causing property damage). All it ever did was force them to fly away, and never once did I witness an injured bird as a result of such. That from was a direct impact no less, so imagine indirect fire, it's simply not going to kill them like that.

Posted by: TheAnalyst | January 3, 2011 10:38 PM | Report abuse

What a crock! To think that the explanation of mass heart attacks is even remotely possible. We all know it's the Chinese with their gamma ray emitting satellites, in another show of force to our government and military of the true might of the Chinese and their goods, readily available at Target & Walmart. You'll also like the similar news story of all the dead fish, not far from the dead birds. Did the fish have heart attacks too? I think not! Clearly a demonstration of the lethal capabilities of space originated high intensity focused gamma rays. Imagine what these gamma rays will do to populated urban areas! Everyone better keep shopping at Walmart, or else!!! You have been warned America!

Posted by: kenalexruss | January 3, 2011 10:51 PM | Report abuse

It would make more sense that monsanto was testing some new insecticide that killed the birds and the fish.

only a true moron would think both the fish and the birds were fireworks or the weather.

Posted by: Chad1 | January 3, 2011 11:17 PM | Report abuse

On the news tonight they said there was a mass bird kill in florida over the weekend, too.

Posted by: HookedOnThePost | January 3, 2011 11:47 PM | Report abuse

If they were scared by a noise and flew into things I would expect that there should be a wide range of injuries to the birds. Any info on if this is the case?
Do the bird kills being reported elsewhere (Louisiana, or Florida as HookedOnThePost claims) have less serious trauma injuries? (allowing them to cover some distance before dying).
I'll need a lot more information before I can decide if I think the bird stampede explanation seems plausible to me.

Posted by: Unforeseen | January 4, 2011 12:00 AM | Report abuse

I will take the Wall Street Journal over MSN and the Washington Post any day of the week.

Posted by: moebius22 | January 4, 2011 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Loud noises? REALLY??? If that was true then why doesn't this happen every 4th of July and New years? I realize the media and gov't think we're all idiots, but they have to come up with a better excuse than this.

How much longer is it going to take before people realize that we are being poisoned for corporate profits? Profitability will always override human health. It's cheaper for corporations to dump their toxic waste into our air, water-ways and land than it is to pay to dispose of it responsibly. Corporations only responsibility is to their shareholders. If corporations want to keep crying about "corporate personhood", demanding the same rights as a human beings; we have to force them to be held accountable for their misdeeds like the rest of us. Why is it when one of us kill a person we are sentenced to death, but when a corporation kills 1000's, they are not only not brought up on charges but most times they don't even pay a fine?

Posted by: owsmokey | January 4, 2011 12:48 AM | Report abuse

The massive die off of the the birds and fish in Arkansas was caused by a disgruntled scientist whose project funding in ionospheric research were slashed and all of his research was confiscated by the Bush Administration and three years ago he lost his job, his wife, his house, and his children (they are on multiple tours in Southwest Asia) and he’s decided to get back at the institutions that destroyed his life, so he was testing his homemade version of Tesla’s Deathray and that’s what killed the fish and fowl in Arkansas.
By the way, Michelle Obama is pregnant. She’s due in September.

Posted by: JD76 | January 4, 2011 1:01 AM | Report abuse

I must have made a mistake in submitting this post previously, the last one seems to be gone. The fish and bird die off in Arkansas was caused by a disgruntled scientist whose project funding in ionospheric research was slashed and all of his research was confiscated by the Bush Administration and three years ago he lost his job, his wife, his house, and his children (they are on multiple tours in Southwest Asia) and he’s decided to get back at the institutions that destroyed his life, so he was testing his homemade version of Tesla’s Death ray and that’s what killed the fish and fowl in Arkansas.
By the way, Michelle Obama is pregnant. She’s due in September.

Posted by: JD76 | January 4, 2011 1:11 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure it was either global warming or Dick Cheney.

+++

Posted by: Hawaiian_Gecko | January 4, 2011 1:45 AM | Report abuse

Our former Vice was out there looking for friends to shoot. When he found none, well, he made each shot count.

Then he went fishing. Using a neutron bomb he caught 100,000.

Finally, he went home and took a nap.

Posted by: jato11 | January 4, 2011 3:13 AM | Report abuse

Our former Vice was out there looking for friends to shoot. When he found none, well, he made each shot count.

Then he went fishing. Using a neutron bomb he caught 100,000.

Finally, he went home and took a nap.

Posted by: jato11 | January 4, 2011 3:14 AM | Report abuse

There are many possibilities, but why investigate when you can just speculate wildly? This is, after all, the Washington Post.

Posted by: jjedif | January 4, 2011 3:27 AM | Report abuse

Since this is WAPO lets call what happened to the birds Global Warming and blame it on George Bush

Posted by: Straightline | January 4, 2011 8:07 AM | Report abuse

The Manchester Guardian elaborates on why the combination of loud noise caused by fireworks and darkness caused so many birds to die.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/04/fireworks-arkansas-blackbird-deaths

Beebe is a small burg and doesn't have the large number of lights you find in many areas where fireworks are set off. It appears the noise may have caused the birds to panic and crash into buildings, trees, etc.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | January 4, 2011 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Maybe they were angry birds trying to get at the pigs for stealing thier eggs.....

Posted by: VTDan | January 4, 2011 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Maybe they were angry birds trying to get at the pigs for stealing thier eggs.....

Posted by: VTDan | January 4, 2011 9:07 AM | Report abuse

CNN JUST reported that 500 birds just dropped out of the sky in Louisiana (not Arkansas this time). So what is your lie now? Maybe God just doesn’t like ugly hateful right-wing republican nuts.

Posted by: question-guy | January 4, 2011 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Looks like the opening scenes of a Stephen King or Dean Koontz novel. Creepy. Mass kills of birds and fish. hmmmmmm. Looks like the end really is near

Posted by: roboturkey | January 4, 2011 12:03 PM | Report abuse

What was Christine O'Donnell doing at that time?

Posted by: 44fx2901 | January 4, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

What about the hundreds of thousands of fish miles away?

Posted by: theobserver4 | January 4, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse

It's obviously all Obama's fault.

Posted by: areyousaying | January 4, 2011 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the incident was caused by sudden strong local disturbances of the earth's magnetic field that the birds use for navigation.

Read more here:
http://brainmindinst.blogspot.com/2009/08/elusive-sense-of-magnetism.html

Posted by: Melzerpeter | January 4, 2011 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry but these explanations just don't seem to fit. Maybe there will be some further analysis. I'd also like to know if there have been any factory or refinery incidents that may have gone unnoticed.

Posted by: mstov | January 4, 2011 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I love it..."44fx2901" hit the nail straight away!!

Posted by: fairness3 | January 4, 2011 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I love it..."44fx2901" hit the nail straight away!!

Posted by: fairness3 | January 4, 2011 2:53 PM | Report abuse

These comments are a treasure.

Posted by: ACounter | January 4, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Looks like the opening scenes of a Stephen King or Dean Koontz novel. Creepy. Mass kills of birds and fish. hmmmmmm. Looks like the end really is near
Posted by: roboturkey | January 4, 2011 12:03 PM
-----------------------------

Put a bullet in your head now, while there's still time!

Posted by: mcoghlan | January 4, 2011 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Marvin the Martian may be the culprint. He probably used his super, duper space MOD-U-LAY-TOR! LOL

Posted by: eyef | January 4, 2011 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I came across this on time.com. "the ceilometer beams that measure the height of clouds above many airports. They are powerful searchlights that cast a spot of light on the base of the overcast so that an automatic instrument can calculate its height by triangulation. On migrating birds they have a terrible effect. Thousands of the birds, apparently confused by the glaring light, lose their bearings and fly into the ground or against low buildings. Last year 50,000 birds were killed in two nights at two Southern airports. Terres estimates that at least 200,000 were killed that year by airport ceilometers."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,807864,00.html#ixzz1A6jChVGy

Posted by: tucker7 | January 4, 2011 5:26 PM | Report abuse

however, that was in the 50s.

Posted by: tucker7 | January 4, 2011 5:34 PM | Report abuse

These mystery killings are the result of tests of sound-wave weaponry, by some yet to be revealed nation.

U.S., China, Russia, Israel ? Take your pick(s).

Posted by: lilhornie | January 4, 2011 5:36 PM | Report abuse

It was obviously a case of mass suicide.

Posted by: freedom5 | January 4, 2011 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Google clathrate gun. This is the sudden release of methane from oceans but could be from the local Arkansas geology. Tremors have been reported frequently since September at Guy, Arkansas. Methane will be hard to detect (converts to carbon dioxide very fast) will kill fish in water and will kill birds in the air. I go with an earth gas-burb of methane as cause. It may also portent a future earthquake of larger ranking.

Posted by: kevin68 | January 4, 2011 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Government researchers are still investigating. Meanwhile, the Democrats have proposed a tax increase on the rich that they say will save more birds from certain death. And Obama has sent Holder to find out whose butt to kick.

Posted by: tulsa_dave | January 4, 2011 6:53 PM | Report abuse

That all sounds interesting and scientific, but may we remind you, birds have been flying our skies since the dawn of time and rarely have you heard reports of large quantities of birds just dropping to their death. Which leads one to wonder is there some fundamental shift in our ecology going on or is this just too much of a series of fluke random events? And how long before us humans start dropping out of the sidewalks?

http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2011/01/now-dead-birds-are-falling-out-of-louisiana/

Posted by: iamandami | January 4, 2011 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Just a thought to put out there...has anyone pulled all the places that these bird kills happened, up on a map?...All of these towns are located near government ran wildlife parks....HMMMMMMMMMMMM....Is that just a coincidence?

Posted by: Systmofadwnfan88 | January 4, 2011 7:11 PM | Report abuse

It was a proof of concept of a quantum entanglement device to promote the return of FlashFoward on ABC, Wednesdays at 9p.

Posted by: ah___ | January 4, 2011 8:22 PM | Report abuse

The government is screwing with the weather. Look for a mass die-off of humans. Soon.

Posted by: TOMHERE | January 4, 2011 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Check out HAARP , THE HIGH FREQUENCY ACTIVE AURORAL RESEARCH PROGRAM.I CARE

Posted by: butchfas | January 4, 2011 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Check out HAARP , THE HIGH FREQUENCY ACTIVE AURORAL RESEARCH PROGRAM.I CARE

Posted by: butchfas | January 4, 2011 9:18 PM | Report abuse


For the last 15 years we have been experimenting with changing the weather by spreading toxic substances from high flying aircraft that resemble contrails from jets that are really toxic chemtrails.

During this period of time - our honey bees and monarch butterflies have been dying off at an alarming rate. Our environmental poisoning may have reached a certain threshhold that is responsible for what happened in Arkansas and Louisiana. We have also been poisoning the environment with toxic agricultural chemicals and GMO foods.

Posted by: alance | January 4, 2011 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Could be Corexit contaminated rainwater from the Gulf spill?

Posted by: TOMHERE | January 4, 2011 11:26 PM | Report abuse

The WSJ could be right. After all, the noise coming out of its op-ed pages has messed up the brains and sense of direction of hundreds of thousands of its erstwhile readers.

Posted by: tuonela | January 5, 2011 1:03 AM | Report abuse

OK folks, lets get real. There have been 487 recordable earthquakes in Guy Arkansas since September 20,2010. If you map out everything that is happening, the birds, the fish, the earthquakes, guess what....it's all in a circle around the old volcano. get ready folks... something is happening underground that the authorities don't want us to know. Sorry...I don't believe the weather or loud noises could have caused the bird deaths. The earthquakes, the birds, and the fish are all related. If you look at an aerial...you can see the caldera & everything falls within it's boundaries. Do those in charge really think we are this dumb? Are you? Do you live in the area? There are homes within this caldera....I think you should be asking a lot of questions.

Posted by: sticks50 | January 5, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

First off, let's not forget that one of the vets that examined the birds says that the birds died before they hit the ground.
Quote from above: The director of Cornell University's ornithology lab in Ithaca, N.Y., said the most likely suspect is violent weather. It's probable that thousands of birds were asleep, roosting in a single tree, when a "washing machine-type thunderstorm" sucked them up into the air, disoriented them, and even fatally soaked and chilled them.
Highly unlikely they ALL died getting blown away or sucked into a storm- Throws that theory out. Try again.

Posted by: TheBzzz | January 8, 2011 4:44 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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